Continuing discussions cite Broadway as a hot spot in South Amboy

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By JACQUELINE DURETT
Correspondent

SOUTH AMBOY — Councilman Tom Reilly wants prospective business owners to see Broadway in the best shape it can be in so they will be encouraged to choose the location to open up shop.

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At the last council meeting of 2016 that was held on Dec. 14, Reilly briefly thanked code enforcement officers for their ongoing efforts specifically regarding properties on Broadway.

After the meeting, Reilly explained that the council had asked code officials to ensure buildings are up to code. That goes beyond officials ensuring buildings look clean and are safe, but also confirming that business owners are following Broadway-specific ordinances about how buildings are supposed to look, he said.

For instance, Reilly said, the city has had issues with businesses using tinted and mirrored windows, which are not permitted.

Improving the viability and vitality of Broadway has been very much on the city’s radar recently, especially with the launch of the city’s new arts district last fall. There is a relationship among the arts district’s success, code enforcement efforts and robust retail, he said.

“In order for the arts district to be the engine [for new retail],” he said, “the first thing we have to do is make sure all the businesses on Broadway are in code.”

Reilly also said he wants the city to attract retail that will extend Broadway’s appeal into the evening. The arts district’s space on Broadway has been holding evening events, such as art gallery shows and yoga.

“That leads me to believe that [the arts district is] doing its job; it’s a service to the community with the programs that they put on,” he said, in addition to the district attracting new business.

Reilly said he did see a bump in retail interest right after the arts district launched, which he said helped attract both the Masterpiece Mixers paint and party studio and Raise the Bar restaurant and lounge. Once more retail is in place and the arts district is in full swing, Broadway can go beyond being a daytime destination for residents and visitors.

“I look at Broadway at night and it’s like a movie [set], where you just look at it and there’s nobody, it’s vacant,” he said. “We want South Amboy to be vibrant. We want people to shop here.”

Reilly said the council is also doing its part in looking at expanding the permitted uses on Broadway and in launching the Shop South Amboy tax incentive program later this year. Residents would save money on their property taxes by patronizing participating city businesses. So far, he said, nearly 20 businesses have expressed interest in participating in the program.

“I do believe we’re taking steps in the right direction,” he said.

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